How Women Disruptors take on risks like a boss

The formidable women workforce in the corporate world is disrupting the way business is carried out in their own unique ways. Adgully turned the industry spotlight on the women super-achievers through its special platform – Women Disruptors Summit & Awards.

An interesting discussion centered around ‘Risk Taking Ability of Women’. Moderated by Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India, the panellists included distinguished names like:

  • Ambika Atri, Vice President and Business Director, Craft Worldwide, McCann Worldgroup
  • Divya Dixit, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing, ALTBalaji
  • Kavita Lakhani, Executive Director, GolinOpinion, Lintas India
  • Shabnam Panjwani, CMO, Edelweiss Group
  • Susan Josi, Managing Partner, Havas Life Sorento
  • Rubeena Singh, CEO, iProspect

At the outset, Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India, steered the conversation towards highlighting the risk taking issues or challenges that women face in the corporate world.

According to Rubeena Singh, CEO, iProspect, while we have reformed as a society, there are some things which are still ingrained in us. For instance, it is still perceived that women don’t take enough risks. Singh reasoned that it was largely because the way women evaluate risks and approach trust is very different. “Women are not reckless, they take time to think things through and then take cautious risks, which may be the need of the hour as well,” she noted.

Concurring with Singh, Shabnam Panjwani, CMO, Edelweiss Group, gave a perspective from the finance industry and said, “I think the way women look at risk is a lot more calculated. We are a lot more stable, a lot more, and a lot less impatient than men. We don’t have a problem being vulnerable, and therefore asking questions, and then making the right choices, otherwise the risk taking ability is the same in both men and women.”

Coming from a healthcare brackground, Susan Josi, Managing Partner, Havas Life Sorento, said, “When we are in the corporate world, we are in a level playing field. But when women take risks, they are are also looking at the pros and cons. I always ask myself – what’s the best thing that can happen? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Let me find a solution so that if the worst thing happens, what’s going to be my Plan B. So, these are things which are your mental conversations. I think when the men do it, they have the gambling risk ability; women possibly don’t do that.”

On the other hand, Kavita Lakhani, Executive Director, GolinOpinion, Lintas India, felt that the problem was not about the risk taking ability, but it was about the number of women who are there in the corporate world. She added, “There are some sectors which, I think, are still very male dominated, and hence, you don’t have enough women to begin with who are going to take the risks.” At the same time, she also said that the society is changing, and so things are moving in a good way.

Putting forth a different point of view, Divya Dixit, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing, ALTBalaji, said, “Everybody’s been talking about calculated risk, and I think I would be the odd one out, saying that not all risks are calculated, sometimes circumstances also force us to make certain decisions.” She cited her own decision to move from retail to broadcast, which was not because it was a calculated risk because her husband took up a job in Mumbai. She further said, “Women are more intelligent, honestly. We always pay attention to details and keep ready a Plan B, should the main plan not work out.”

Agreeing with this, Ambika Atri, Vice President and Business Director, Craft Worldwide, McCann Worldgroup, stressed on why it was so important for leaders to embrace this. “We need to make sure that we give women equal opportunities in the workplace. It can be by creating more job opportunities or upskilling them and strengthening them so that they can succeed. What they bring to the table, men don't,” Atri affirmed.

While stating that risk taking is a must, Barua asked the panellists how they defined risk.

Giving a point of view from the financial space, Shabnam Panjwani said, “We live and breathe risk! The two things that we ask ourselves every single time when we have to take a decision are – Is it worth it? And, can you afford it? Thus, everything that we do, every choice is a risk.”

Talking about the communications world, Kavita Lakhani noted that with the growing move to digital, one needs to ask how to really idealise that space and whether or not to go deeper into that space. “To push the envelope on an idea that you truly believe in comes from a place of understanding and from a place of saying, as a new client take the risk along with me. So, that in itself is big,” she added.

Meanwhile, according to Ambika Atri, risk is something when you start seeing and experiencing it. “When you look into an innovation space or when you look into a completely different avenue, it opens up many opportunities,” she said.


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